Misunderstood “Mold”

ShowerheadShowerheads look harmless enough.

We were in escrow representing the buyer.  The home inspection found a leak in a shower/tub and a “staining” on a surface in an entirely different location on the property.  Hmmm, are they related or not? The negotiations began…after extensive conversations with our buyer client about the pros and cons of moving forward in escrow with the current information, the client decided that in order to proceed with the sale we wanted a mold inspection.  We researched companies and made an appointment asap.  Timing was a priority due to the contingency period.

The word “mold” has come to be used to describe a substance that might appear as dark, ugly, and where it is not supposed to be – whether it’s mold or not!  Until you are buying or selling a house with such issues, you may not think about this much, or simply consider the “stains” mildew and go about your life, promising to get the bleach out at the next house cleaning.   All homeowners need to keep moisture away from their homes, but Coastsiders do live, after all, next door to the Pacific Ocean – a wonderfully dewey, coastal climate, with frequent invitations for moisture to settle in.

Mold can cause problems for people and houses according to the San Mateo County Environmental Health Division.  Neither a homeowner, a Listing Agent, a buyer, or your neighbor can correctly diagnose mold.  A great resource for identification of the substance is ProTech, based in Redwood City.   This company offers trained Industrial Hygienists.  We worked with Ron Mason.  He was professional and knowledgeable.  The test may cost in the $500-$700 range depending on what you have tested and how many samples are taken.  Within a day or two you will get a report detailing specifically what is going on.  The new knowledge about your property that you get from a report like this is worth the fee alone, especially if you suspect mold.

Okay, so let’s say you do have black mold (one of the types).  You then hire another company, such as Ideal Drying, to remediate the problem.  ProTech, or the company that does the initial testing, comes back to the property to retest and declare the property mold-free.  It may not be as destructive as one would think.  ProTech has some very cool, highly sophisticated tools to detect mold in places that are not easily reachable, thereby saving the homeowner from major destruction and reconstruction costs.  Before the contractor puts the house back together – e.g., the floor back in, the wall back together, etc., you will want to make sure the underlying problem that created the moisture/mold problem is also fixed!   The sooner you identify a potential problem, the less expensive it will be in the long run, and the peace of mind is priceless.

m-o-l-d does not have to be a “bad word”.  If you have a mold story, share it here and help others.


Health Risks of Household Mold, by San Mateo County Environmental Health Dept.

ProTech Consulting & Engineering, Redwood City, CA  650-569-4020